Civil society organisations (CSOs) have called on the Forestry Commission, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR), and the Parliament to expedite work on the conversion of extant leases and permits to valid timber utilisation contracts, which would allow for the successful issuance of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) license before the end of 2020.
The CSOs, including EcoCare Ghana and Forest Watch Ghana, in a statement noted that Ghana’s failure to issue FLEGT license this year could raise further barriers for the already ailing timber industry, stressing that the slow pace of the conversion process could have dire repercussions on Ghana’s timber industry:
“Ghana’s credibility on the international timber market and in the eyes of the European Union, in particular, is at stake. This may affect future commitments and declarations made by Ghana on such bilateral/multilateral commitments. Ghana’s failure to issue a FLEGT license this year could also raise further barriers for our already ailing timber industry.”
The statement further said: “We understand that the conversion process has begun, and a list of over 100 contracts have been prepared and submitted to the Ministry for signature and onward submission to Parliament for ratification. We commend the recently sworn-in CEO of the Forestry Commission for his leadership in the process so far.
We understand it was under his directions that the Forestry Commission speedily prepared the individual Timber Utilization Contracts which are now locked up in political bureaucracy at the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.
It is very important and crucial that the conversion process is concluded and submitted to Parliament for ratification before Parliament rises this year to avoid possible repercussions that the failure to complete the conversion process might have on Ghana’s reputation internationally.”
The CSO believes that the issuance of a FLEGT license will greatly remedy the ailing timber industry and propel the growth of the sector to support economic development. It will as well support the welfare of workers and protect jobs, especially during this COVID-19 era.